Are Hotels and Millennials Connecting?

Hospitality is searching to find out, what do Millennials value in hotels?

The relationship between Millennials and hotels has become a large part of the conversation when it comes to the future of the hospitality industry. This is largely due to the growing spending power of Millennials in regard to the hospitality and travel industry.

“The number of Millennial travelers is significant and growing fast. It appears by 2017 Millennials will outspend baby boomers on hotels,” said Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer of The Center for Generational Kinetics.

Many Millennials haven’t yet developed long-lasting loyalty to any particular hotel brand, making guest engagement critical between the hospitality industry and Millennial demographic. In fact, hospitality has one of the lowest reported levels of engagement with Millennials. Only 20 percent of Millennials report feeling fully engaged by the industry.

So what do Millennials want?

Hotels targeting Millennials have realized how different modern expectations are of hospitality. Impacting this has been the emergence of tech-savvy brands such as Uber and Airbnb. Such modern brands are capable of delivering a strong, multi-platform digital experience that engages target groups where they are most active – on mobile devices and on social networks such as Snapchat and Instagram.

Digital experience is proving to have a primary impact on Millennial engagement and satisfaction, according to recent reports, and numerous industries are capitalizing on this, from retail to banking.

Mobile is currently at the center of it all. Millennials are using mobile technology to interact with brands for more convenient communication and service, a trend that doesn’t end when it comes to hospitality. Embracing mobile technology is key for hotels to win Millennial loyalty.

“It will require a redefinition of service – one that offers Millennials tremendous choice, speed and personalization based on their individual preferences. Providing such tailored service not only means accommodating consumers’ use of smartphones but for operators to leverage their own mobile devices to better serve them,” said Ray Carlin, Vice President of Solution and Strategy Management at Oracle Hospitality.

The evolution of hospitality to accommodate Millennials in hotels is evident in a number of recent developments, from the move to introduce keyless room entry to the installation of in-room tablets at hotels for self-service functionality.

New hotel brands, such as Marriott’s Moxy, Best Western’s GLō, Starwood’s Element, Hilton’s Canopy, and Hyatt’s Centric, are being created to appeal to young Millennial travelers, or at least those with the modern Millennial mindset when it comes to travel. It’s an attempt to create the kind of guest experience that will lure Millennials and build loyalty with this segment of travelers.

The common thread among these Millennial hotel brands seems to be a focus on coming across as trendy, hip, and adventurous, with in-room amenities, pared down to those that are a necessity or enhance convenience. For example, most of the best hotels for Millennials are being outfitted with limited closet and desk space, clean design, and hotel technology features such as extra electrical outlets, strong WiFi connectivity, mobile device charging ports, self-service tablets.

Price often comes up in the conversation about Millennials and hotels, with the demographic being identified as prioritizing low cost over much else.

As Millennials continue to mature and enjoy increased financial power, the hospitality industry will certainly see more changes to attract and satisfy this group in the future.